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Penny Pritzker, Hyatt, and Busting Teacher Unions


In discussing Hyatt Hotels heir Penny Pritzker’s support of Obama while UNITE-HERE has called for a boycott because of the terrible way the chain treats its housekeepers, it’s worth pointing out Pritzker’s other recent activities–attacking teacher unions.

Pritzker has been right there with Rahm Emanuel in his fight against Chicago teachers.

Penny Pritzker’s role as one of the seven members of the Chicago Board of Education has been prominent since Mayor Rahm Emanuel appointed her in May 2011. As one of her first acts on the school board, she spoke in favor of the controversial (and since proved mendacious) decision by the Board of Education to vote that it was facing a “fiscal crisis” and therefore did not have to honor the fifth year of the labor contract with the school system’s unions. That vote rescinded the four percent raise that the unions had negotiated four years earlier with the previous school board. Two months after that vote, Pritzker voted quietly to transfer an additional $70 million to the City of Chicago for police services in the schools, a scandal that has lately been exposed by researchers (including this reporter) at the Chicago Teachers Union. The school system had a valid contract with the city requiring it to pay $8 million per year for police services, but after breaking the unions’ contracts, the members of the Board voted to transfer the additional money to Rahm Emanuel’s city budget. As with most decisions of the Board since Pritzker became a member, the action was taken in August 2011 without discussion or debate.

The most prominent public activities of Penny Prtizker during the past year have not been the occasional soiree with rich people (and Rahm Emanuel) at her Ochard Street mansion on Chicago’s north side, but her monthly attendance at the meetings of the Chicago Board of Education, where she has spoken openly in favor of the union busting privatization policies of Rahm Emanuel’s appointed Chief Executive Officer, Jean-Claude Brizard.

Of course, it’s not like busting teacher unions is something Obama has much concern with, given his close ties the a whole cadre of Chicago “reformers,” including Emanuel, Pritzker and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

Can’t wait until Democrats take power in order to create sensible education policies that support teachers….

But I’m sure labor will have a far greater say in the 2nd Obama term than Penny Pritzker!

Diane Ravitch with more.

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